With their backs to the wall, the Harrison County Americans responded in a big way, winning twice against the Harrison County Nationals to capture the West Virginia State Championship in Babe Ruth 13-15 year old All-Stars. The Americans were 8-2 winners in the deciding game, after pulling out the first contest 8-5 to win the double elimination tournament.
The Americans advance to the Ohio Valley Regional, which will be held in Mattoon, Ill. They will face a team from Lexington, Ky., that defeated them 1-0 in the same regional as 13 year olds.
"This is an absolutely special group of kids," said American Manager Russ Nutt. "We've went through injuries and getting beat, but we've been able to battle through it."
The Americans, who had lost 5-1 to the Nationals earlier in the tourney, dominated the deciding game, never trailing. They took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. Justin Talocka scored when Ryan DeMarco was hit by a pitch, then Greg Pigg scored on a walk to Derek Bowen with the bases loaded.
The Americans blew it wide open in the fifth with four runs. Eric Golden's double to right center plated DeMarco and Trey Simmerman. Three batters later, Greg Pigg's infield single scored Chris Hurst, and Chico Luchuck followed with a double to left that scored Adam Southern for a 6-0 lead.
The Nationals managed two runs in the top of the sixth, but stranded the bases loaded, ending its best comeback effort.
The Americans would add two more in the bottom half of the inning, highlighted by Simmerman's RBI single to right, for an 8-2 lead.
Pigg led the way for the Americans, going 2-for-3. For the Nationals, Jimmy Joe Patterson went 2-for-3.
In the first game, the Americans overcame an early 2-0 deficit to come back. The Nationals scored twice in the first. Justin Starkey's walk scored Frank Secret, and Patterson was hit by a pitch, which scored Andrew Spatafore.
However, the Americans' resilience was proven when they plated three in the third. Simmerman, who was 3-for-4, doubled, scoring DeMarco, and was followed by Golden's double, which scored Derek Bowen and Simmerman for a 3-2 lead.
The Americans would add four in the top of the fifth to take control with an 8-2 lead. Scott Toothman's double to left center scored Hurst and Zack Bowen to highlight the inning. The Nationals would manage three more runs in an comeback attempt.
"They just outplayed us today," said Nationals Manager Barry Shreves. "They hit the ball well, and they got some bounces."